Deliver a festive message, but make them work for it
An opening has come up to become Santa’s chief elf. In order to be considered, Santa himself has set you a series of challenges. Can you solve them successfully and join him at his North Pole workshop?
I love receiving post (other than my credit card statement, of course), so from the moment the envelope, complete with wax seal, dropped from the letterbox, we couldn’t wait to see what was contained within.
The contents turned out to be a quality-feeling Christmas card, filled with puzzles from Mystery Mail. Of course, if you want to send a Mystery Mail to someone else, you don’t necessarily just have to send a Christmas Card – they do have (at the time of publication) two other games available in addition to A Very Merry Christmas: Catch Me if You Can, and School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, so it’s entirely up to you which theme you choose.
I will just say, that although A Very Merry Christmas was my least favourite of the three, it is still a lovely surprise to send to someone.
The idea behind the games from Mystery Mail is to tantalise the recipient with an unexpected letter, and they must solve the puzzles within in order to unlock the message from the sender. Our card was beautifully packaged, and no attention was spared to detail. This is certainly something that will pique the interest of anyone receiving it.
As we opened the main card, a smaller card tumbled to my lap; we followed the directions to the website as directed to begin our Elf Training for next Christmas. If you’re expecting this to be a narrative-driven adventure, you will be disappointed. Yes, A Very Merry Christmas has a very loose narrative running through it (you’re solving these puzzles to see if you’re up to the task of being Santa’s Head Elf next year after all), but in reality, the only thing to tie them all together is the holiday theme.
The game is nonlinear, and tasks could be tackled in any order, although the nature of some of the puzzles made it feel as though the game would work better for a solo recipient. If your intended recipient is actually a group, you could absolutely split up the puzzles and solve them individually, or solve them together, but one puzzle, in particular, is definitely more of a solo endeavour, and attempting to solve together could end in a bit of frustration. Everything you need is contained within the card, with some exceptions that are very clearly laid out, and the online interface for entering the solutions linked smoothly to the video message from our mystery sender.
A Very Merry Christmas has two difficulty levels – Big Elf and Small Elf. Logically, Big Elf is for adults or families with older children (Recommended 14+) and Small Elf, for families with smaller children. I think we probably received the Big Elf version of the game as some of the puzzles definitely made us take a moment to think, and I imagine could prove quite difficult for little people, so being able to tailor the difficulty is a wonderful feature.
Logic, maths, wordplay, observation, spatial relations – the puzzles were a bit of a mixed bag and some we loved, but others, not so much. One in particular is a rather popular puzzle style, but changing it to make it festive ensured that it was fundamentally flawed. As I normally enjoy its numerical counterpart I will be a bit more forgiving, as it was still solvable, but Gord was not a fan. The other less beloved puzzles were also rather familiar, and happened to be ones that I am already not a fan of, so I will admit that my feelings on this point are rather prejudiced, and shouldn’t put you off. But, my pre-existing prejudices against the rather popular puzzles that appear all over a certain social media site aside, we generally enjoyed the puzzles.
Should the recipient require any help, there is a hint button at the bottom of the page that hosts the intro video. Each of the seven puzzles is broken down with multiple hints, followed by the solution. It’s not particularly immersive, but it is an effective system; it does seem to be the standard for these style of puzzle games for a reason.
Are you looking for a different sort of holiday greeting card to send to the Escape Room Enthusiasts/puzzle fiends in your life? A Very Merry Christmas from Mystery Mail offers a fun alternative to the traditional cards that are the hallmark of the season.
- Device with an internet connection
|Value for Money|
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 35 mins
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.